The Peelian Principles were outlined by Sir Robert Peel, after the inception of London’s Metropolitan Police Force, in 1829. They demonstrate the purpose and mission of the force, as well as remind officers for their reason for employment and who they serve. These instructions have been passed on to each new entry into the force, since its inception. Although Peel verbalised these principles in his speeches, the list was formally complied by the first joint Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police Force, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne. The principles are still relevant to modern policing, and can be summarised as:
- The police force’s basic mission is to prevent crime and disorder.
- The police depend on the public’s approval of their actions, to continue to do their jobs effectively.
- The police must adhere to the law in all circumstances and be unwavering in their duties, maintaining impartiality and avoiding temptation to deviate from procedure; to retain the public’s respect.
- The police must realise that the more they are able to secure the public’s cooperation, the less physical force will need to be used.
- The police will seek and preserve public favour, not by catering to public opinion, but by adhering impartially to the law. The same level of courtesy and respect should be extended to all members of the public, regardless of social or economic status.
- Police will only use physical force, in carrying out their duties, after they have provided sufficient warning, advice and persuasion but failed to gain cooperation.
- Police officers should always maintain a relationship with the public that supports Peel’s statement ‘the police are the public, and the public are the police.’ When carrying out their duties, it is important that they remember that they are also citizens, given the honour of defending others around them.
- The actions of officers should always be directed towards their function, and the powers of the judiciary should never be usurped.
- The effectiveness of the police force is measured by the absence of criminal conduct and disorder, not the visibility of the police dealing with it.
After developing the principles to support the police force, Peel went on to serve as Prime Minister for two terms. He is viewed as a political hero, because of his genuine concern for the nation, by 20th century scholars. Historical reports describe him as ‘endowed with great intelligence and integrity, as well as an immense capacity for hard work,’ which was beneficial to the United Kingdom on many levels. There have been memorials erected throughout the country, in his honour, and Peel’s legacy continues to live on at Scotland Yard and beyond.